I heard a crack, then the floor gave way.

Last summer, my wife Angela and I helped our friend Diane move to a rented house in Connecticut. The house was built in about 1823 – a wooden structure over a stone foundation that had been added on to a number of times during its history.

Diane has two children, then aged 10 and 12, and when we arrived she was preparing to put a bed frame together. I offered to take over as she needed to pick up her children. Before leaving, she pointed out a white square on the wooden floor and said: “Would you cover that patch with the bed, please? I’m not sure what’s going on, but I think the boards are a little weak there.” We were on the ground floor, so there was no sense of danger. Diane’s only worry was that her son might jump out of bed and damage them.

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